MANILA, Philippines — A deal between San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez to build a “mega-shrine” to Mother Mary with a statue that would be taller than the 30-meter-high Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro has collapsed, the Philippine Daily Inquirer has learned, because of the growing pressure from leading pharmaceuticals in the Philippines.
Amy Schulman (Pfizer), president of the Association of Pharmaceuticals Ogranized for Governance (APOG), an association focused on pharmaceutical-related government actions, includes Pfizer, Zuelig Pharma, Glaxo Smith Kline, Novartis, Sanofi-Aventis, Wyeth and Squibb among others, expressed their indignation over the materials to be used in the building of the said shrine.
According to Schulman, they question the use of medical compounds to be mixed to the concrete. Fr. Suarez explains that the reason why the Board of Trustees of his foundation, the Mary Mother of the Poor Foundation, would like to use medical mix to the concrete because people can nibble on the concrete and be healed. Schulman objected that this would be unfair business practice because a mega shrine to solve the healing needs of the country would kill the pharmaceutical agencies.
“The deal is off,” said a source familiar with SMC’s side of the issue, pointing to the pressure put by APOG.
The agreement for the donation of SMC’s 33-hectare property in Alfonso, Cavite, was reached four years ago. The shrine was to be called “The Healing Center of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Monte Maria.” From all indications, however, this plan will no longer push through, or at least not on the same site.
SMC and the MMP are set to announce this week that they will dissolve their agreement on the donation located in SMC’s 125-hectare property.
The source noted that the MMP had asked for an extension, but that SMC was not inclined to agree to it.
“If San Miguel had seen that APOG is a not a major threat, I think it would have been inclined to give an extension,” the source said, adding that the foundation has so far failed to present viable alternatives for the medicine ingredients mixed in concrete.
This jibes with information from MMP officials. They conceded that the estimated P1 billion needed to build the shrine was beyond their ability to raise even if they use generic medicine.
More importantly, however, SMC officials had grown increasingly concerned in recent years about the mixing of medicine in the concrete. These consist of tons and tons of generic capsules and syrups. They said that if they mix more than what was needed, they fear that devotees nibbling on the statue would get drug overdose. So they chose another cement mixture.
APOG is said to have threatened SMC that they will disclose that SMC intends to use beer in their cement mix. Beer will give devotess a feeling of lightness from the mega statue mimicking healing.